The players wanted Bruce Cassidy to get the promotion to full-time head coach. Bruins fans wanted Cassidy to have the interim tag removed. Cassidy, himself, absolutely wanted to remain in Boston.
On Wednesday, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney made Cassidy’s status a reality.
After going 18-8-1 in the final 27 games of the regular season and guiding the Bruins back to the postseason for the first time since 2014, Cassidy was given the promotion that he rightfully deserves as he was named the 28th head coach in franchise history.
Taking over for Claude Julien, the winningest coach in franchise history, was no easy task – especially after the public relations nightmare of his dismissal that was announced the same day of the Patriots’ Super Bowl parade through Boston back on February 7. At that time, the Bruins had 58 points and were on the outside looking in of a playoff spot.
With 37 points in the final two months of the season, Cassidy’s Bruins were arguably one of the better teams in the National Hockey League from his first game on February 9 to the B’s Game 6 loss to the Senators this past Sunday. The track record spoke for itself, and as they echoed their thoughts of wanting Cassidy to return behind the bench next season, the Bruins locker room has to be feeling pretty good about Wednesday’s development.
“He was put in a tough situation, you know, being out of the playoff race and maybe just chasing [the final playoff spot] when he takes over, to a team that gets in,” first-year Bruin David Backes said during Tuesday’s breakup day at Warrior Ice Arena.
“The way the business works, you can tell that he was coaching for his life and show that he can make a splash and be a difference maker, or else who knows what the future [would’ve held] for him. I think he did a heck of a job, and I think his results are what a coach should be judged on. He got us into the playoffs, turned the ship around and we won a lot of games while he was behind the bench.”
Cassidy’s impact with the organization goes beyond his brief stint as interim coach.
For the better half of the last decade, Cassidy has been a staple in the Bruins organization. From his days coaching in Providence to his promotion to being named one of Boston’s assistant coaches and later having the interim tag, Cassidy has seen his share of current Bruins go through the organization, including Brandon Carlo and David Pastrnak.
Cassidy’s presence with the likes of Carlo and Pastrnak have been beneficial to their growth as professional hockey players.
“He’s a great coach, you know,” said Pastrnak, who, like Cassidy, hopes to stay in Boston as he enters contract negotiations this summer. “Obviously I had him in Providence and I had a chance to play for him here [in Boston]. He’s a good guy and a good coach. Obviously, we had a good push at the end of the season to make the playoffs, so I think he did a good job.”
“I feel like he’s worked really well with the young guys,” added Carlo, who was paired with Zdeno Chara on the Bruins’ top defensive pairing for his first season in the National Hockey League. “It was nice to have him at the beginning of the year on the defensive side of the rink there, and you know, he’s fresh with the NHL’s [style]. He’s got that energy about him that he likes to contribute at practice, you know, he likes to stay out there [after practice] and talk to me, and overall I think he’s been awesome and I hope to be working for him for years to come.”
From Pastrnak to Carlo and before them Torey Krug and Brad Marchand – just to name a few – Cassidy has been instrumental in the growth and development of many players in the current locker room. That, along with the respect of the veterans and the track record over the final 27 games, made this decision to promote Cassidy a no-brainer for Sweeney and the Bruins front office.
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